Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My first vintage player piano

Last week I bought a vintage Thompson player piano for $250.  Beautiful mahogany wood. Everything seems to work fine and all of the notes still ring. No cracks on the piano. The sound board looks solid. Some of the ivory keys are missing. Everything works. I was told by piano's previous owner that it hadn't been tuned up in over 50 years. Yet it sounds remarkably well for it's age despite the lack of tuning.

50 piano rolls came with the piano.  Most of the titles I don't even recognize. Some titles are downright racist and demeaning but that's how the era was like. Some minor adjustment is needed to add a slight tension to the reel to help keep the piano roll paper lined up and not crinkle along the edge. I'll figure it out on how to do that. Pumping the pedals isn't quite perfect but it works and takes a bit of doing and adjusting the playing speed.

I plan on posting some of my videos playing some ragtime pieces now that I have a real vintage player piano.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Captioned Video: Deaf Man's Passion for the Piano

Here is Ron Tan, who was born with 80 per cent hearing loss, teaching himself to play the piano was a turning point in his life.
"I realised that what I really want is to produce music, and that has to come from my heart."
And having discovered and developed his own passion, Ron is now eager to help other people with disabilities stoke theirs. His talent management outfit for special needs performers, called Inclusive Art Movement (I.AM), is one of the entries in the Singapore International Foundation's Young Social Entrepreneurs programme, which seeks to inspire, equip and enable youths of different nationalities to embark on social enterprises. Interested in taking part or supporting I.AM? Get in touch at

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Grand Piano Passions

If you have a love for grand piano (mine would be to have an Estonia grand piano someday) and have a hearing loss here's an online magazine called "Grand Piano Passion" created by the founding editor Nancy M. Williams who herself has a (genetic) hearing loss.  She can hear across a wide range of frequencies, from the lowest note in the bass to the highest note in the treble. There's a "Hearing and Music" section that covers piano and hearing loss, and how pianists deal with their hearing loss or their hearing aids.  It's a good site to go to for good reading. Although I'm a ragtime/novelty rag pianist at heart I have practiced and played classical piano growing up until I discovered ragtime as a young teen.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Deaf Pianist Donates $2 Million Dollars

A deaf person who also plays the piano donates $2 milllion dollars to California State University, Fresno.
Retired architect, vineyard owner and piano player Robert Duncan Nicol, who has been deaf since birth, says he is living proof "that deaf people, indeed, can do many things." That includes being a generous benefactor. Nicol on Friday gave $2 million for The Silent Garden program in the Communicative Disorders and Deaf Studies department at California State University, Fresno. The donation will help deaf and hearing-impaired children, their parents and teachers, as well as adults with hearing loss.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Young pianist continues to struggle with declining hearing

Here's a young pianist who was born with some amount of hearing loss but in her later years as a teenager her hearing loss has noticeably progressed affecting her piano playing skill. She continues to compensate by feeling the vibrations through her fingers on the keyboard. Doctors are unable to find out why she has lost more of her hearing or whether she will progressively lose more in the future. In December of 2011 she put on a musical show at her school to raise funds for the National Deaf Children’s Society. Read more on this story.

Deaf pianist regains hearing again

Here's a subtitled video of a Dutch pianist who lost his hearing due to ear infection. He was able to push through his deafness and continue to play and compose music while the sound of piano notes remained in his head. But in the end he never took for granted the ability to hear once he regained all of his hearing back.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Making Music with a Hearing Loss: Strategies and Stories

That book is now available in Amazon. I'll be getting a free copy of it since I'm one of the several deaf/hh musicians who were interviewed for that book. My narrative can be found in the final chapter of that book.
There are many texts on music and hearing loss, but what makes this volume unique is that it does not require the reader to have any previous background in hearing science. It is written in non-technical language for the layman, and begins by explaining how the human ear hears sound. It covers the interplay between music, speech and hearing devices and discusses hearing conservation for musicians. The final chapter contains inspiring narratives from eleven deaf or hard of hearing musicians belonging to the Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss. These eleven stories describe using a variety of strategies to integrate hearing loss and music making. Musicians new to hearing loss, hearing-impaired adults wanting to learn a musical instrument, audiologists, music educators, and music researchers will also find this book a valuable addition to their library collection.
I'll be waiting with great anticipation for my free copy. If you are deaf or hard of hearing and enjoy music, this will be a great book to have. If you have a hearing loss and is considering on wanting to play a musical instrument, don't let your hearing loss stop you. And if you do play a musical instrument....don't stop! Keep practicing and find other like minded people who enjoy playing music with their musical instruments.